The History of the stigma of dangerous dog breeds - Writing Sample 3

You’re coming home from vacation and even though you really hated to leave, there is one thing that makes you so excited to walk in the door after a long day of traveling. Your dog. Your dog gives you more love than any human ever could no matter how many days you leave them alone at home. Loyally, they will take care of you until the very end.  You really wished you could have taken him with you, but the resort did not allow any pets. Now imagine that you try to take your dog with you because other people have taken their pets to the very same place, but when you get there, you are turned away because you have a dog that is classified as “dangerous.”
            All over the world, certain dog breeds are banned from public places and often not accepted at shelters. But, has anyone ever thought about what gave these breeds their reputations?
          While the most popular of certain dog breeds are usually pit bulls and Rottweilers, the list can also include mastiffs, German shepherds, and Dobermans. According to BBC, these breeds began to be seen as dangerous to the American public after “Sports Illustrated” published an issue with the face of a pit bull snarling his teeth on the cover with the title, “Beware of Dog.” They included with the cover, a story of how one dog killed a 2-year-old little boy. This article led to many states banning these breeds.
            Not only are they banned in many states, according to BBC, they are also banned in Ireland. In Australia, they are treated differently in public and are required to wear a different color collar and require owners to have signs posted at their house that they own a dangerous dog to warn the public.
            Dangerous dog breeds have a long history and over time they have been seen as a hero to many and villainous to many others. According to barkpost.com, pit bulls were originally bred for dog fighting as entertainment in Europe. According to BBC, bloodhounds were originally bred for hunting different animals and hunting escaped slaves and criminals. German shepherds were used by the Nazi’s in Germany during World War II to scare people. Rottweiler’s were used for guarding property.
When families moved to America, they brought their dogs who were known as friendly family pets. During that time, they were used for farming, protecting families, watching children and providing friendship to the family. Also according to barkpost.com, the individual dogs that were aggressive with their owners were put down immediately, which meant from there on out, they were bred to be gentle with humans, especially children.
During the world wars, they were seen as poster “children” for America as a sign of fearlessness and protection because of the reputation they had with families and their children.  Now how did these dogs go from family friendly animals to dangerous animals that needed to be avoided at all costs in public?
Dog fighting was outlawed in the United States in 1978, but that did not keep anyone from continuing the practice. Large dogs were seen on the streets with their owners with spiked collars, which eventually turned the public to be afraid of them. The media became interested in the illegal activity that was happening with dog fighting and ruled them as dangerous, according to barkpost.com. In “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” bloodhounds are described as “vicious, bloodthirsty beasts.” The media has had a great influence on what people choose to believe about dangerous dog breeds.
            Shelters also tend to take caution when taking in strays. Animal Care, of Greenville, S.C., accepts every animal that is brought to them regardless of breed. Volunteer, Jenna Tyrpak says, “The reality for a volunteer at an animal shelter is that you can’t predict how an animal will behave based on breed.” Tyrpak started volunteering in 2017 because of her love for dogs and just wanted to help out. “The animals I work with are often strays, and I don’t know what they’ve been through before,” says Tyrpak.
            Recently, media sources have tried to reverse the image that dangerous dog breeds have on the public. Buzzfeed has published many articles about pit bulls that include stories submitted from users about their own dogs.  There are also advocates who are working hard to reverse the stigma. According to the humane society, “One of our most recent legislative fights, corrected a legal problem that declared all pit bulls as dangerous, despite their individual personalities.” Tyrpak also commented that, “the experiences, and sadly the abuse, of a particular animal will have a much greater effect on how it behaves.”
            It can be seen through history that these dogs act dangerously because their owners are often “abusive and encouraging of aggressive behavior,” according to barkpost.com. The law has done what they thought was right to protect a majority of the population from being killed by such breeds, when in reality, the training of a dog and their own personal history has the biggest influence on how a dog behaves. According to the Human Society, any dog can be at risk to bite someone if they feel unsafe or uncomfortable with their surroundings. Often, dog bites are caused by a person not knowing how to react to a dog in an instance when they may feel unsafe. In the case of a dangerous dog breed in a shelter, if they have felt unsafe in the past, they may feel as if any human will hurt them in the way their previous owner did.
           Even though dangerous dogs have a past, and can be dangerous in some forms, there is no evidence to back up that these breeds are genetically more dangerous than another breed, according to the Humane Society.